By Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA and Louis DeMers, B.S., Chemistry, M.S., Organic Chemistry
NOW Foods sells Lavender essential oil, which is 100% pure and obtained by steam-distillation of the herb. The species is Lavandula officinalis (spp).
"spp" means all of the various sub-species of a specific species from a genus of plant. In this instance the genus is Lavandula and it is the species Lavandula officinalis that is used to produce our Lavender essential oil. And for this species of Lavandula there are 3 sub-species, which are fragrans, delphinensis and latifolia, of which we use only 2 - the fragrans and delphinensis (this is per Guenther's Essential Oil Compendium). The latifolia is also known as Lavandin, which we do not offer for sale.
Lavandula officinalis and its 3 sub-species are all used topically, with cautions to carefully dilute. As an aside, our Organic Lavender Oil is from Lavandula angustifolia P.mill, another (and more modern) name for the officinalis species. It also is used topically, with the same cautions.
There are also synonyms for the specific species name; not an unusual thing for herbs:
Lavandula angustifolia Mill. (syn. L. spica L.; L. officinalis Chaix.; L. vera DC.);
It is NOT an unknown species or a mix of species. This species is also known as True Lavender.
NOW does not sell Spike Lavender [Lavandula latifolia Medic. or Vill. (syn. L. spica Cav. or DC.)]. The flowers of L. stoechas L. ("Spanish lavender") also enter commerce, but are not used by us.
Lavender is from aromatic small evergreen shrubs (subshrubs) with linear or lance-shaped leaves. Leaves of spike lavender are broader than those of true lavender. The plants are native to the Mediterranean region but are also cultivated elsewhere. France is the major producer of lavender products.
Guenther's Essential Oil Compendium states that, All types of lavender products (especially essential oils) are used as fragrance ingredients (some extensively) in cosmetic products, including soaps, detergents, creams, lotions, and perfumes (e.g., lavender waters and other colognes), spike lavender oil being more extensively used in soaps and detergents. Maximum use levels are 1.2, 1.0, and 0.8% reported for lavandin oil, lavender absolute, and spike lavender oil, respectively, in perfumes.
Lavandin, being a hybrid of true lavender and spike lavender, has several forms with varying degrees of resemblance to its parents. Parts used are the fresh flowering tops from which the essential oils are obtained by steam distillation and extracts (concrete and absolute) by solvent extraction (see glossary). For spike lavender oil production, the sun-dried flowers are used.
NOW sells only the True Lavender species for aromatherapy. It is processed by steam distillation and is also suitable for use in cosmetics and foods with appropriate precautions as to proper dilution (as indicated above, typically under 1%). We do not sell blends of different species and also do not sell Spike Lavender or Lavender Absolute. NOW does sell a Lavender-Tea Tree Oil Blend that is clearly labeled as a 60:40 blend of two completely different steam-distilled essential oils. NOW Lavender Oil is Gas Chromatography/Infra-red Spectroscopy verified by skilled professional lab technicians to assure that the best quality solvent-free 100% pure essential oil is continually used in this product.